Tag Archives: Mitch McConnell

Sen. Corker is going out with a splash

Bob Corker isn’t going to leave the U.S. Senate quietly. He won’t skulk off into the night when his public service career comes to an end.

Oh, no. The Tennessee Republican who announced his intention to retire after the 2018 midterm election is going to make sure he puts his “mark” squarely on Donald J. Trump’s backside.

Corker is now in the midst of a Twitter fight with the president. He has many more friends on Capitol Hill than Trump can claim. One of them happens to be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is standing by his Senate colleague.

McConnell calls Corker a valuable member of the Republican Senate Caucus. And when he’s asked directly whether he agrees with Corker’s recent criticism of Trump, McConnell does a version of the Texas two-step. He doesn’t answer the question directly, which is a sort of code for “Yes, I agree with my friend.”

Feud heats up

The long-term impact of Corker’s feud with Trump has yet to be known. The president has tweeted already that he intends to oppose anything that Corker supports. Do we take Trump at his word? And do we now expect Corker to oppose anything that Trump puts forth?

Corker isn’t the longest-serving U.S. senator by a long shot. In this particular climate on Capitol Hill, though, he has emerged as a thoughtful and wise voice of reason. With the rhetoric heating up and with the president seemingly at odds with virtually all so-called “establishment Republicans,” this feud with Corker is taking on some added relevance.

Sen. Corker is a lame duck. That doesn’t mean he’ll be a lame member of the U.S. Senate. He’s already declared that Trump “hasn’t yet demonstrated” the competence he needs to be president. He has said that members of the president’s Cabinet at keeping the nation “separated from chaos.”

It’s gone downhill from there in rapid fashion.

Trump keeps demonstrating the truthfulness of Corker’s analysis.

Teamwork, not warnings, is in order, Mr. President

Teamwork, Mr. President. Teamwork.

You need to reach out for help from Congress, not issue warnings of an “or else” consequence if lawmakers fail to enact a “once in a generation” tax overhaul.

Donald Trump ventured to Missouri today to hawk a plan to change the federal tax system. His public remarks were, typically, short on details. The rough outlines suggest that the president wants to cut tax rates for wealthier Americans and perhaps simplify the monstrous tax code — which I read the other day comprises 78,000 pages.

Yikes, eh?

But as his the president’s style, he is putting pressure on Congress to do his bidding. What we learned, though, from the failed Republican-only effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act is that the president needs to weigh in with detailed analysis and must be willing and able to argue the fine points of what he prefers from the lawmakers he needs to make it become law.

Time to pull together.

Trump failed famously to do any of that as the ACA repeal effort floundered and failed in the U.S. Senate.

Now he’s implying a threat to congressional leaders. “I think Congress is going to make a comeback. I hope so. I’ll tell you what, the United States is counting on it,” Trump said in Missouri.

I need to mention, too, that the president’s relationship with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has gone from frosty to frigid. Trump needs McConnell at least as much as the other way around. Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Ryan — who presides over the body where all tax legislation originates — isn’t exactly singing the president’s praises of late, either.

Get in the game, Mr. President. If you want any sort of success, then it’s time for you to stop threatening and start cajoling.

Politics isn’t easy. Or simple. You can’t just make demands of legislators and expect them to march to your cadence. They have actual “bosses” back home, in their states and congressional districts, who they need to please.

They work for them, Mr. President. Not you.

It’s a ‘team sport,’ Mr. President

Donald John “Tweeter in Chief” Trump Sr. posted this little gem today via Twitter: The only problem I have with Mitch McConnell is that, after hearing Repeal & Replace for 7 years, he failed!That should NEVER have happened!

Let me remind the president once again that winning and losing political battles are shared responsibilities. Normally.

The president and the Senate majority leader, both Republicans, own the failure of the GOP members of the Senate to approve an overhaul of the Affordable Care Act. Again, normally.

Trump is the head of the Republican Party. He is the nation’s top Republican officeholder. He won the 2016 presidential election and took with him to the White House the hopes and dreams of his party faithful. He carried them on his back.

They wanted the ACA repealed and they looked to the president to push that load over the finish line.

He failed. Right along with the Senate, and the House, and the rest of the nation that wanted to see the ACA repealed and replaced with something else. I was not one of those Americans, by the way … as if readers of this blog needed reminding.

Governance is a team sport, Mr. President. It involves the legislative and executive branches of government working together for the common good. The country depends on everyone involved.

Trump and McConnell reportedly are estranged politically. McConnell is reported to have stated privately that he doubts Trump can “salvage” his presidency. Why? Trump lacks the political knowledge and skill required to do the job to which he was elected.

Yes, Sen. McConnell and the GOP members of both congressional chambers deserve a lot of the blame for what Trump believes went wrong with repealing and replacing the ACA.

But not nearly all of it.

Shut down the government … over a wall?

So much grist poured out of the president’s relentless and reckless rant in Phoenix …

Let’s take a nibble at this tidbit: Donald John Trump Sr. says he’s willing to shut down the federal government if Congress doesn’t approve money to pay for the wall to be built along our nation’s border with Mexico.

Yep, the guy who said this past summer that “I, alone” can solve the nation’s problems now is blackmailing congressional Democrats to provide money to build the wall. If they don’t, he said, the government shutdown is on their hands.

But wait!

Trump has vowed that Mexico is going to pay for the wall. Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto says “no … we won’t!” Trump reportedly has zero relationship with the Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, who has declared there is “zero chance” the government is going to shut down; “We are not going to default,” said McConnell.

The president is insulting congressional Republicans as frequently as he insults Democrats. He is destroying — one insult at a time — any chance of getting anything done once Congress returns from its summer recess.

So now the guy who wants to “unify” the country, who declares it is time to “heal our divisions” is now threatening to shut down the federal government if Congress doesn’t do something he has promised never would happen.

I believe former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper — a serious and sober man — has it right. Donald Trump is unfit for the job to which he was elected.

Top Senate Republican drops yet another bomb on Trump

Thank goodness for the media, which are doing their job in ferreting out information pertinent to the future of our national government.

The latest media bomb comes in the form of a New York Times story that reports Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — the Senate’s top Republican — doubts whether Donald John Trump can salvage his presidency.

The president and McConnell haven’t spoken in weeks. They have exchanged angry phone calls. The Times reports that the relationship has gotten even more complicated by the presence of Elaine Chao in Trump’s Cabinet as transportation secretary; Chao is McConnell’s wife.

What we have here is a serious breach reportedly developing between a top-rank legislator and a president with zero experience or understanding of how government works.

They appear to have let their differences fester into a serious boil.

The Senate Republican caucus couldn’t approve a health care overhaul. Trump blamed the Senate, even though he has shown hardly any interest in the nuts and bolts of what he kept saying should be approved.

Right here, dear reader, is yet another example of how the president lacks any kind of political capital. He has no capital to spend to do anything. Why? He has no relationship with anyone on Capitol Hill prior to his taking office as president.

Like it or not, the political world is built on relationships, be they friendly or contentious. Trump had none of that. He assumed public office after working his entire professional life in search of personal aggrandizement and enrichment.

Trump calls the Times part of the “fake media.” He keeps suggesting the newspaper is “failing.” Something tells me the newspaper has this one right.

It’s for real: Trump is a RINO

I’m a bit slow to pick up the beat on this, so I’ll acknowledge that right up front.

It’s been clear for a quite a while that Donald John Trump Sr. is a Republican In Name Only. Yep, he’s a RINO. He owns the pejorative term that true-blue Republicans hang on imposters, those who pose as members of the GOP.

The most glaring piece of recent evidence comes from the dozen or so Republican U.S. senators who are lining up behind Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who’s embroiled in a dispute with the president.

Trump blames McConnell for every legislative failure that’s come along. He has chastised at various times the speaker of the House, Paul Ryan (another Republican), Sen. John McCain (he’s an R, too), and the attorney general of the United States, Jeff Sessions (a former Republican U.S. senator).

Oh, sure, he’s gone after Democrats as well.

The president, though, is playing exclusively to the 35 percent or so of Americans — his political “base” — who continue to stand by their man. They adore the president not because he’s a Republican, but because he, um, “tells it like it is.” 

Hmm. It just occurs to me: They love Trump for the very same reasons millions of other Americans — including yours truly — detest him.

The man has no ideological grounding. He doesn’t have a core set of principles. He has no understanding of government, nor any interest in learning about it.

Trump ran for president as a “populist,” a friend of the Little Guy. Yet he jets off to his decadent resort properties in Florida and New Jersey where, I’m quite sure, he spends zero time talking up close with rank-and-file middle Americans who are the only political allies left on whom the president can count.

The president’s appeal has nothing to do with party, or ideology, or governing principle. The president is a RINO. Pure and simple.

Trump is right: GOP blew it on ACA repeal/replacement

I hope you’re sitting down as you read this next sentence: Donald Trump is correct — to a point — in criticizing the congressional Republican caucus for failing to replace the Affordable Care Act.

The president, who has opened a new front in his all-out war against the Washington political establishment, tore into Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for the GOP’s failure to have a replacement ready for enactment when Trump took office.

Do I wish the Republicans had done such a thing? No. I do not like the idea of total repeal of the ACA; I would prefer mending it, fixing it, repairing what’s wrong with it.

My point about the president’s criticism is that the congressional GOP caucus had many years to come up with a replacement plan. It didn’t. It dawdled and twiddled. It didn’t have the wisdom to come up with a reasonable alternative to the ACA. It instead chose to fight with the President Barack Obama on all manner of issues.

Then came Donald Trump to the scene. He won a presidential election while making some grossly overstated promises. He pledged to take Washington by the back of its neck and shake, rattle and roll it to do his bidding.

That didn’t happen, either.

The president was right to at least expect to have a starting point on this repeal-and-replace effort regarding health care insurance. There was nothing waiting for him when he took office.

To the extent that GOP members of Congress were at fault, then the president is correct. They didn’t deliver the goods.

However, the president’s anger at the GOP breaks down because of his refusal to accept any personal responsibility for his party’s failures. It might have been better for Trump to say something like this: “The Republicans in Congress had seven years to replace ‘Obamacare,’ but they didn’t. It’s not entirely their fault, though. As the leader of the Republican Party, I must share in this disappointing outcome. I am the president of the United States, the head of the executive branch of government, which shares power with Congress. I also must share the blame. That’s part of the deal.”

Trump told McConnell that he needs to “get to work.”

Yes. So should the president.

Now for Main Event: The Donald vs. Mitch

It’s a rare event indeed when a president beset with unanimous opposition from the “other party” decides to declare virtual political war on someone who’s aligned with him in the same political party.

Donald John Trump Sr. is now tweeting his angry thoughts about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Here’s the best part: McConnell offered a perfectly reasonable, rational critique of the president’s difficulty in enacting legislation, while the president responds with a typically juvenile tweet.

I’m shaking and scratching my head at the same time.

McConnell noted that Trump is “new” to the political process, and said he set “excessive expectations” about how quickly he could enact his legislative agenda. The president’s newness is an honest assessment; the man had zero public service experience prior to running for president. He doesn’t understand government and doesn’t grasp the notion that effective governance is a team sport, that it requires the executive branch of government to work hand-in-glove with the legislative branch. It also requires pols from both parties to compromise while searching for common ground.

Good grief! McConnell could have said it much more harshly than he did. He sought instead to be the diplomat.

Trump fired back with that tweet reminding us that Congress had seven years to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but still hadn’t gotten the job done. Trump’s allies in the right-wing media — namely Fox News commentator Sean Hannity — weighed in, calling for the Senate majority leader to resign.

The utterly ridiculous aspect of this is that Trump and McConnell supposedly are on the same team. The president needs McConnell to assist him in furthering his agenda. Is this how he intends to harvest that help, by continuing these attacks?

Meanwhile, the loyal opposition on the other side of the political chasm — congressional Democrats — are remaining quiet.

Smart.

With ‘friends’ like these …

Donald John Trump Sr. needs all the friends he can find on Capitol Hill.

Why, then, does the president of the United States insist on waging rhetorical war with the leader of the U.S. Senate’s Republican majority? Why is he picking a fight with Mitch McConnell, a master Senate parliamentarian and a guy known as one who can move legislation?

That’s what Trump is doing.

I’m going to put my money on McConnell getting the better of this battle of wits.

McConnell was mildly critical of the president for setting “excessive expectations” for his legislative agenda. Trump then fired back — via Twitter, of course! — this message: “Senator Mitch McConnell said I had ‘excessive expectations,’ but I don’t think so. After 7 years of hearing Repeal & Replace, why not done?”

You see, this is another demonstration of what the president fails to acknowledge. He is the leader of the Republican Party. He’s the head of the executive branch of government. He owns the GOP’s failure to enact an Affordable Care Act replacement bill as much as the congressional Republican leadership.

Except that he refuses to take ownership on that failure. Or any failure, for that matter.

This deteriorating relationship is going to bring great harm to the president’s ability to enact any kind of legislative agenda. The more he fights with members of his own party, the weaker he appears across the land.

Democrats, meanwhile, should follow the time-honored credo of refusing to butt in when principals of the other party are fighting so openly.

What’s more, if the special counsel’s investigation into that “Russia thing” gets any hotter, and it produces actionable results, the president is going to seriously need friends on his side of the aisle. This intra-Republican squabbling isn’t going to help him.

This might be where I should say: Awww, cry me a river.

Yep, Mitch, it’s time to ‘move on’

Mitch McConnell sounds like a man who has cried “Uncle!” in his long-running effort to toss out a law that is linked to a man he once vowed he would make a “one-term president.”

The U.S. Senate majority leader didn’t succeed in limiting former President Obama to a single term; nor did he succeed in repealing his signature piece of domestic legislation, the Affordable Care Act.

It’s time to “move on,” he said this week after the latest — and most dramatic — failure to repeal the ACA.

Yes, Mr. Leader, it is time. Sure, you now have a chance to tinker with the ACA, to improve it. The Senate’s top Republican can work with Democrats — for a change! — in finding some common ground.

But the task of legislating, which McConnell knows as well as any one in the Senate, involves lots of complicated things. It involves building and rebuilding relationships with your colleagues from the “other party.” It means you have to deal with myriad crises that crop up around the world without a moment’s notice; and brother, we have a lot of ’em, right, Mitch?

It also means that the leader also has constituents back home in Kentucky who need matters dealt with that concern only them and only their state. I am going to presume that McConnell has a Senate staff that is tasked with tending to those needs on his behalf.

The Battle of the Affordable Care Act is over, Mitch. You lost. The other side held together.

The Senate can fix what’s wrong with the ACA, keep its name, and deal forthrightly with a heaping plate of issues that need its attention.

Oh, yes. We also have that “Russia Thing” that needs our attention.